Sunday, November 5, 2017

Wonderstruck: Monday, October 30 2017

Wonderstruck (2017) is based on the novel (2011) of the same name, by Brian Selznick (51), and who adapted the novel into a screenplay. Directed by Todd Haynes (56), the story is unfolded slowly. Very, very slowly! In fact, one of our Film Group said afterwards that it was a lovely movie, as watching it made him fall into such a deep sleep. I hate to have to admit, I had great difficulty also, in staying awake. This created problems for me in following the story; I had to catch up on a few details afterwards. Apart from that, the other members of our group said they enjoyed it reasonably.

Oakes Fegley played Ben, the chief character, who is struck deaf by lightening striking his home. It bothered me greatly that his face was half-covered by his hair falling into his eyes, too much of his time on the screen. For me, this detracted from his performance. I kept feeling I wanted to rush him along to a barber. Bad enough to be deaf, but unnecessarily blind also, seemed too much.

Millicent Simmonds played the younger Rose, a deaf girl, who is the other chief character. She really is deaf in real life, and was especially chosen for the part for that reason. Her hair didn't keep falling into her eyes, I was relieved to note.

Julianne Moore played the older Rose, and also the film star, Lillian Mayhew, whom the younger Rose runs away from home to find. Moore does look different in each part. The older Rose is still deaf. It's not quite as confusing as it sounds, but my falling asleep at times did make it difficult to keep up with the storyline. I think I got it right in the end.

The deafness of the two chief characters neither detracts nor adds to the storyline. It is incidental, thrown in for what reasons I don't know. It seems nowadays, that too many films have chief characters who are totally different from what one could call "ordinary" people. I find myself wondering what that even means. Which, of course, is the idea of this present crop of films. We are meant to be shaken out of our core beliefs as to what is an "ordinary" person. As I have many friends nowadays who are battling with hearing aids, deafness is not out of the ordinary in my experience.

One of the early displays at the Museum
The name, Wonderstruck, was relating to the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. A lot of the story did seem to play out there. Apparently, the museum was among the first to create Habitat Dioramas as an early form of virtual reality designed to develop a concern in people for the environment and animals. Some of the scenes were around these exhibits, and perhaps more could have been made of the originality of their existence. I didn't get the feeling of wonder that possibly I was meant to feel.

If you like a movie that has a reasonably complex, if a little predictable, storyline, designed for children, you will like this film.

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